An Honest Guide to Hosting Yoga Retreats 

Hosting yoga retreats has got to be one of the most alluring elements of a career in yoga. Retreats allow us to bring our ultimate wellness experiences to life. When we decide to offer a retreat, we become the architect of a potentially life enhancing, thought provoking, and deeply transformative experience for those who attend. 
Hosting a retreat is a big responsibility, with potentially big, beautiful outcomes. 
However, from a business perspective, there are some key things to consider to ensure your offering is a success (instead of a source of overwhelming stress!). Check out my top 4 essential and often over-looked points to consider, and download the retreat checklist to help you start planning your retreat with ease and confidence. 

1. Price Your Retreat Properly. 

Retreats are a wonderful experience to offer your clients, and can do wonders for branding and your income, if you price them properly. The biggest trap I see with retreats is that people are afraid to charge what the experience is worth, and under charge so that it’s an easy sell. They don’t do their numbers properly and just do the whole thing on a whim — charging what they think people will pay, instead of costing it out and charging accordingly. 
Tip: Use a spreadsheet to track your budget and all expenditures involved with your retreat, from the tangible things like venue, food, and travel costs, guest teacher costs, and paid promotions, and try to leave some wiggle room for incidental and unexpected costs too. It’s also important to know your break-even point (how many people do you need to sell into the retreat to break even?), and your profit margin on every sale after your costs are covered. 

2. How does the retreat fit into your business model? 

I personally see two ways that retreats can serve your business. 
One is that you advertise the retreat, and it’s the hook in to on-board new clients — a specially crafted experience for your ideal client, which may then lead into an ongoing relationship, where you continue to work together more post retreat. In this instance, you want to make sure you make a profit, however you may also find yourself throwing a lot more of a budget into paid promotions to attract leads and sales, and you’re selling to people you may have only just met. But, if you set up your marketing well, it can lead to growing your email list and audience, as well as onboarding some potentially new long-term students that may invest in your services over and over again. 
The other way a retreat can serve your business is if you already have an engaged community, a retreat may be crafted to offer more value to your existing students and clients, while creating an upsell for you. This type of selling typically requires less (or zero) dollars spent on advertising, and creates an opportunity for further education, intimacy and bonding within your community. 

Tip: You may be able to blend both of these objectives together (many people do!), but just be aware of; a) the different marketing and selling methods required, and b) how the group experience may manifest and shift if you have new clients mixed in with longstanding students (How will they all get along? What expectations do your existing students have regarding who will be present at the retreat?). Think about your objectives for your retreat and plan accordingly — consider who you’re planning for: new or existing students, and create a marketing and sales strategy accordingly. 

3. Consider and budget for all areas of your life, not just money. 

When putting together a retreat, it’s easy to get caught up in costing out the obvious essentials — venue, food, little extras. However, another thing we need take into account is how much time we put into delivering, creating, marketing and selling the retreat, as well the time away from running our businesses. You may need to pay for covers for your classes while you’re away; you’ll also be away from your desk — perhaps taking a week off marketing and sales calls (how much of a $ hit will you take as a result?). It’s also time away from your family — you may need to recruit child or pet care, and your absence may place a strain on your loved ones. 

4. What’s the goal?

If your main focus is on creating a beautiful experience for others; enjoying some travel for work; hanging out with some of your students and doing awesome stuff together, then the financial side of things may not be too much of a concern. If you’re doing it for the thrill and love of it — great! Go for it, and enjoy every moment of the experience. Be clear on your reason for hosting a retreat, and create and deliver in a manner that feels right for you and your students. 

Tip: the business mentor in me will always recommend that your retreat makes financial sense. But I do want to honour that as yoga teachers, we get ‘paid’ in other ways too. Maybe your retreat wasn’t a huge financial success (sometimes 1–2 last minute cancellations are enough to wipe out your profit margin!), but perhaps it was a success in other ways (the joy, the connection, the learning, the healing, the insights, the growth, etc you and your students experienced). Which can be seen as a different kind of profit that you maybe just can’t get anywhere else J. 

By Samantha Doyle 
Chair of Yoga as a Business Working Group 
Teacher Trainer & Business Mentor 
Instagram: @livetoserveacademy @yogawithsami_